Smited? Smote? I dunno, but “cast back into hell” also works for the way the Angels pummeled the Sox pen this weekend. This is one of those series where if Rick Hahn had any interest in making the Sox good this year this series is at minimum a split and most likely they take 3 of 4. It’s frustrating because it doesn’t have to be this way, and doubly so because the front office doesn’t seem to care what we think. Meanwhile Zack Collins, Luis Robert, and to a lesser extent Nick Madrigal continue to steal the lunch money of the middle school children in AAA and would be almost instant upgrades over players on the major league roster but instead we get to sit here and scream at the rain. Tiger isn’t going to change his stripes just because we want him to put a better product on the field, but I digress.
I actually had pretty high hopes for this series based on the way the Sox had played against the Astros, and losing 3 of 4 to an Angels team that’s had trouble getting anyone out since the calendar flipped to August definitely hurts. That being said, if you sift through the rubble there are actually a few positives to take away from this fetid pile of baseball excrement. Let’s take a look, shall we?
NUMBERS DON’T LIE
-I said in the preview that if the Sox hit and the starters were able to hold the Mighty Trout off the scoreboard they would stand a good chance of winning this series or at least splitting. Well, that turned into somewhat of a mixed bag for results. Lucas Giolito picked up where he left off, going 6 strong innings and striking out 11 Halos en route to the only win of the series for the Sox. It’s good to see that the bumps in the road he encountered just before the All Star Game are now merely a memory, as the last 2 lineups he’s faced have been stiff challenges. On the other side of that coin, Reynaldo Lopez couldn’t get Mike Trout out to save his life. That in and of itself is not much of a shock, as the number of pitchers who have the same distinction could fill up the Cook County phone book. What was unfortunate for Lopez was that the offense didn’t show up until after he left, and the fact that he had to leave was because Wellington Castillo is a burning clown car behind home plate. Lopez had multiple chances to get out of the 5th inning unscathed but Castillo got crossed up twice behind the plate and it kept the inning alive and 3 runs scored. Castillo has been hitting better of late but he’s just plain terrible behind the plate and I have seen enough.
-Dylan Cease pitched decently today, but made a few mistakes with his curve and they haven’t landed yet. He still struck out 6 and looked in command of his stuff for the most part, though Trout got the day off so take that for what you will. I still feel like Cease is going to end the year on a tear and get everybody excited for him in spring training where he will get bit by a brown recluse spider and his pitching arm will become necrotic and need to be amputated.
-Hector Santiago was fine and his 4.2 innings were fine until Evan Marshall showed up and did his best Rick Ankiel In The 2000 NLDS impression and walked everybody including the churro guy working behind 3rd base. Marshall’s peripherals have been teetering lately, and the axe finally fell this series. He managed to get 1 guy out in the 2 games he appeared in. Meanwhile he walked 3 and plunked one. He only got charged for 1 ER Saturday night thanks to a Goins error, but we all know it was his fault and he should feel bad.
-James McCann has shaken off the malaise of late July and early August to get back to mashing dongs. Eloy likewise had a very good series going yard twice and notching his first career triple, scoring (who else) McCann. Abreu and Timmy continue to hit as well, and the imminent return of Yoan Moncada bodes well for this offense going forward.
-Game 4 of this series the Sox looked like they wanted to be anywhere but SoCal, and played accordingly. I can only hope they’re a little more geared up to face the Twins this week or it could be ugly.
-The rotating cast of characters in the booth with Jason Benetti this weekend was very entertaining. I enjoy Benetti and Stone quite a bit, but switching things up occasionally can be fun and this was. Listening to Bill Walton call his first ever MLB game was the equivalent of watching your buddy get shitfaced for the first time and laughing at him trying to strike up a conversation with the water fountain outside your dorm. Ozzie is entertaining as ever, but also has some quality insight that’s delivered in the way that only Ozzie can. Ken Tremendous (AKA Michael Schur of Parks and Rec, The Office, and The Good Place fame) was very very good, and I would absolutely like to have him be the permanent substitute for Stone any time he’s away. Alas, he’s a busy man so this was probably a one off, but awesome all the same.
-The other thing this weekend did was prove that Jason Benetti is an excellent announcer, as he was able to adjust his style constantly and keep the broadcast not only listenable but very fun. If you haven’t heard him call basketball games for ESPN, he’s excellent there too. My fear is that the NFL is going to realize that and lure him away from the Sox with big money, but for now I’m just going to enjoy it while it lasts.
-Next up for the Sox is the fucking Twins again. God I hate them.